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Japanese Reactions to the Gate Anime

TPbaOGate: Thus the JSDF Fought There was bound to be controversial anime. Not only is the author of the original Gate web novel, Takumi Yanai, a former member of the JSDF, the JSDF uses Gate characters on their recruitment posters. It is no surprise that from its very first episode, Gate has attracted criticism for its right-wing and nationalistic overtones. Even The Diplomat Magazine weighed in on the issue, describing Gate as one of many recent “military moe” series to use cute girls to sell JSDF propaganda. [1]

I found it surprising that Gate’s politics would garner so much debate on places like Reddit. It’s nice to see that so many Western anime fans are familiar with the debates around Japan’s wartime atrocities. On the other hand, Japanese perspectives on the anime are being ignored here, which is ironic considering that the whole point of these discussions is to shed light on the Japanese cultural and political context.

I wrote this post in an attempt to address the imbalance somewhat. This isn’t a rigorous study or anything, nor should you consider the excerpts I’ve translated a representative sample, but it should give you an idea of how some online commentators have been approaching the issues. I also decided to include some Korean perspectives as well, simply because a good deal of the Japanese commentary on Gate has been in reaction to what foreigners (mainly Koreans) have said. However, bear in mind that I can’t read Korean, so I am really just reporting on the Korean reactions that have been translated into Japanese.

tldr; 2ch users angrily insist that Gate is “just an anime” and that Koreans and leftists should stop being offended. Blog reactions have been more varied and nuanced.

Firstly, a note about net-uyo

0b9a2f76Net-uyo (ネトウヨ) is a colloquialism used to refer to Japan’s internet right-wingers. These online denizens are typified by their extreme nationalistic views. They are often highly cynical and negative, especially towards Chinese and Koreans. However, unlike establishment conservatives, net-uyo are young – often in their twenties and thirties. They are also typically male. Despite their strong views, the majority of them are not politically active offline. Their “activism” is mainly restricted to posting inflammatory things on 2ch and piling comments on Yahoo news articles, which gives the misleading impression that their views are more widely accepted than they actually are.

This brand of politics may sound familiar to anyone who has ever interacted with angry nerds on the internet. Yes, the net-uyo are the loudest voices in the room, but they are extremely unpopular outside their echo chambers. Their voices are amplified because many popular blogs copy-and-paste the most controversial 2ch threads in order to get that juicy clickbait money. Outrage culture is very much a thing on the Japanese web as well.

As a result, it is very difficult for an outsider like me to provide a fair and balanced representation of online opinion. I can’t ignore the net-uyo, but I want to stress that this is not how the majority thinks. At the same time, it’s hard to determine exactly what the majority thinks, because not all sites espousing different views have an equal amount of traction. For the sake of thoroughness, I’ll start with what the net-uyo have to say, and then spend the rest of the post on alternate opinions.

For the net-uyo, the Gate anime provides yet another excuse to hate Koreans

The Japanese web is littered with “foreign reaction” blogs, which seem to be curated by web owners who cherry-pick the most ignorant and inflammatory things to translate. Naturally, the people who comment on these blogs latch onto every opportunity to espouse the usual “us versus them” rhetoric.

Kankokunohannou.org has a thread dedicated to Korean reactions to the Gate anime. [2] Here are some of the Korean reactions:

When Code Geass was airing to popular acclaim, I remember getting annoyed when people around me said it was good lol.

(Hating on Code Geass? Unforgivable.)

The glorification of the military in Japanese anime is terrible.
Since military anime is popular overseas, those cunning Japs can brainwash foreigners into thinking that this heinous military loved its citizens, protects women and never created comfort women brothels. The number of Wapanese (people who are otaku about Japan) will increase and feel compelled to visit Japan. The wokou reap all the benefits.

Wokou refers to the pirates that used to raid the Chinese, Korean and Japanese coastlines.

Naturally, the Japanese commenters were not impressed by the insinuations.

Just what you’d expect from a country that learns all its history from TV dramas and films lol.
These idiots can’t tell the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Such a Korean thing to say.

.

They’re jealous that we’re more popular with foreigners. A case of hwabyeong.
They’re so off-base it’s kimchi-warui.

Hwabyeong is known within Korea as a mental condition that is roughly comparable to depression. Outside of Korea, it is stereotyped as merely having a short temper. Also, kimchi-warui is a play on words with kimochi warui, which means ‘disgusting’ in Japanese.

Very few comments talk about the anime itself. The Gate anime is simply another front upon which both sides wage their cultural war. [3]

“Is the JSDF anime Gate right-wing? They smite their enemies with weapons and get the good-looking girls”

This is the title of a widely-read article that was first published a few weeks after the anime’s first season started airing. It was reposted on multiple sites and is among the first articles to appear if you search for anything related to Gate’s politics on Google.

The article takes the form of a conversation between the writer/editor Ichishi Iida and the sci-fi literary critic Naoya Fujita. While praising the story and characters of Gate, they also discuss some of its political context.

Fujita: The anime adaptation was probably planned because of the current debates around the right to collective self-defense.

Iida: No, plans for the anime adaptation were probably underway three or four years ago, and while the Abe administration was talking about Abenomics back then, they were barely saying anything about reforming the right to collective self-defense in the Constitution, so I think it was a coincidence. The airing schedule wasn’t decided right until the very last moment.

On a fundamental level, I don’t think Gate has a net uyo-ish message. Even in the web novel, the protagonist Itami, a JSDF official, was non-political. He declared that he had never been to Yasukuni Shrine.

Fujita: By the way, the first Abe cabinet (2006) revised the bill to establish Japan’s Defense Agency, paving way for a people’s vote to revise the Constitution. [4]

Iida: During Abe’s first cabinet, the novel hadn’t even been published in tankobon format yet.

Fujita: The web novel is a product of its time, and at the time of the first Abe administration, it was evident that Abe was trying to push reforms in the Constitution that were related to the JSDF. There are parts in the web novel that definitely resonate with the time it was made. In 2007, the Abe cabinet was declaring reform on the Constitution.

Iida: I suspect the anime staff would not be pleased if people thought they were connected to the Abe administration. But then again, they probably want to avoid criticism just for including the JSDF. No matter how you handle the subject, you’d be criticised by both the left and the right.

Fujita: My judgement is that the creators must have known that depicting the JSDF at this time would have created a certain impression for those watching it, so they must have been been prepared.

Iida: The other day, I had the chance to interview Takumi Yanai, the original author, and since the anime staff was nearby at the time, I asked, “Doing the series at this time will definitely be taken a certain way, right?” and he said, “No it’s just simple entertainment; I never thought about it at all.” It was just something he said while we were chatting, though. That the series doesn’t have a political motive.

Fujita: What a load of bullshit lol. You can’t say it has no political element or that you can ignore it all just because it’s “simple entertainment.”


The two of them go on to discuss other things after that, but naturally this was the part of the article that attracted the most discussion on blogs and forums. The commenters on the highly popular otaku blog Yaraon had a few things to say:

Is this bothersome topic the only thing people think about when it comes to this series?

.

“The right to collective self-defense is politically loaded these days,” he says.
So far, Gate has had nothing to do with the right to collective self-defense.

.

It’s a busayo. Say cheese!

Busayo is a derogatory word for a left-winger. It comes from combining the word busaiku (clumsy) with sayoku (left-wing). Think of it as a Japanese version of “SJW”…

This Fujita guy is entrenched in his viewpoint.
He said that there has to be a political motive for Gate air at this time.
He completely ignored the other guy when he pointed out that the series was being planned two or three years ago and therefore has nothing to do with it.
Even when the author said that he had no political motive, Fujita just laughs it off calling it bullshit and goes on espousing his opinions.

He’s retarded.

While most of the responses bashed Fujita, some of them thought he at least had a point.

It’s nice to see the JSDF doing something, but when I see all this “Japan’s technology is so sugoi! Our food is so oishii! Japanese people are so yasashii! Our web novels are so sugoi!” it’s kind of embarrassing lol.

.

Hmm…
It’s true that the JSDF occupied the hill, set up bases and drove off the enemy attacking them, but the phrase “trampling over a technologically inferior country” is one-sided and makes only Japan sound bad.

Some self-identified otaku actively criticise Gate for the cultural imperialism in its subtext

At around the same time, the blogger namotama wrote a post called Otaku Culture and War – Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There and Cultural Imperialism. The blogger sums up the discourse around the subject as follows:

While Gate has been caught in a maelstrom for its extreme political focus, it was predicted long before the anime started airing that it would cause a lot of partisan bickering. And, just as predicted, people are starting to post “outrageous” statements and criticisms online (mostly from leftists), as well poking fun of them on Matome sites and blogs.

But honestly, they only really care about Matome sites and blogs; they couldn’t care less about forming an actual “citizen’s group” or exerting real-life political influence. You never hear them taking up a position in the Diet somewhere, or about some protest happening, or anything like that. They just stick to posting an individual person’s off-the-cuff statements; basically, the partisan debate surrounding Gate is close to the echo chamber of today’s otaku world.

Matome (“summary” in Japanese) sites collect 2ch threads and tweets and archive them on the web.

Despite their cynicism about the discourse surrounding the Gate anime, the blogger goes on to say:

Even so, despite (no, because) I’m an otaku, I’ve decided to tread this ground: how can we interrogate otaku culture and war? This will be long, so I’ll begin more-or-less with the conclusion: I think that this series is built around “cultural imperialism” and aggression.

The rest of the blogger’s argument sounds quite similar to what various English-language bloggers have written (e.g. Passersby on Random Curiosity).

Another blogger, going by the name of Gaius_Petronius, professes to be a big fan of Gate, but also talks about some of his unease with the subtext:

As much as I love this type of story on a subjective level and experience a great catharsis through watching it, when I look at it from your typical cool-headed and critical perspective, how can I ignore what goes on?!?! It’s based in this Nippon Banzai! attitude, other countries’ perspectives are explained in a distorted manner, everything is explained in a way that is convenient for Japan, and the other land’s perspective is full of holes. It always weighs on me.

He goes on to ramble about Pocahontas and a bunch of other things, but basically he argues that Gate explores imperialistic impulses of the likes you see in Chinese and American media but which is rarely ever present in Japanese media because the subject is so taboo. For that reason, he found it cathartic.

Reactions to the latest controversy (SPOILERS for episode 21)

I’ll finish off this post by noting that the depiction of UNETHICAL JOURNALISTS in episode 21 caught attention from bloggers and commentators.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Translation: The journalist who appeared in today’s episode of Gate said the exact same thing as a certain chairman of a news program…
He said that there’s no such thing as an impartial journalist… and here I thought that a just media would endeavour to objectively and fairly report on matters without too much bias…

Numerous commentators pointed out that Gate was basing its depiction off the Asahi Shinbun in particular. The newspaper is well known for its left-wing and pro-pacifist editorial stance. Asahi journalists have a negative reputation for putting their own spin on their reporting.

On Yaraon, the commenters couldn’t take the caricature seriously. Some of them seem to jokingly agree that the media is full of asshole journalists, but I can’t tell whether they seriously hold that opinion. One commenter quipped, rather hilariously, “This was definitely true about the SMAP breakup incident.”

That said, the commenters on this article definitely appear to agree that the mass media cannot be trusted. A common joke is to refer to the masukomi (mass media) as masugomi (mass garbage). It is not surprising that social media users would take issue with the mass media.

Others took issue with the anime’s one-sided portrayal. A blogger named Takumura said that the caricaturising was dumb and that the series is poorly-written overall. They also added: “I get it. A left-winger can’t read into this deeply. The light novel is impossible to get into if you don’t share the author’s ideological framework. Even though it’s an easy read on the surface because of the idiotic setting, putting the story into perspective poses problems.”

Nevertheless, it seems that most of the people who were upset with Gate’s politics have dropped the series by now, because most of the reactions on Twitter and forums have been positive. Episode 22 is airing tonight and everyone on Twitter is excited about it.


Personally speaking, I think that the Gate anime makes for rather dull viewing and that the political elements in it are so ridiculous that I can’t take them seriously. But it’s not up to me to decide what people can and can’t take issue with. In any case, I’ve found that other people’s reactions to the show have been much more engaging than the show itself.

What do you think of it?

Footnotes

[1] John Oliver had a hilarious segment about this on Last Week Tonight.

[2] Technically, it’s about Korean reactions to Western reactions to the Gate anime. Yes, this post is written by a Westerner discussing Japanese reactions to Korean reactions to Western reactions. It comes full circle!

[3] For further reading on this subject, check out Rumi Sakamoto’s analysis of net-uyo and nationalism on the Asia-Pacific Journal.

[4] In 2006, the National Diet passed a law to change the status of the Defense Agency to a Cabinet-level Defense Ministry, referred to as the Ministry of Defense. This change now allows defense officials to have greater influence over national policy-making and budget decisions.

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Posted on March 11, 2016, in Anime Analysis and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 76 Comments.

  1. At the same time, it’s hard to determine exactly what the majority thinks, because not all sites espousing different views have an equal amount of traction.

    You set yourself up for failure here, because the way this is phrased and approached is trying to utilize a qualitative method to answer a quantative research question, for which you need polls. Sure, you could and should then inform them with more qualitative research, but yeah, you literally can’t answer what “the majority thinks” by going by op-ed publications, professional or otherwise.

    The Fujita and Iida dialogue is very reminiscent to me of what’s going on in the American Primaries right now, and something I’ve mentioned recently in my tumblr political write-up. They’re acting as if this is a new thing, as if this is all about Abe. But the reason Abe even managed to ride this into office is because it has already been there prior. Yes, Abe being in office and increasing talk of this makes media pick it up more, and media picking it up more causes more people to think about it (not necessarily side with it), but it’s been there, for a long ass time.

    Here’s a small and relatively recent example, from 2005. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd gig has an undercurrent of politics about standing up to foreign power, capitulating to foreign power, and exercising Japan’s right to stand strong and independent. This isn’t a new topic, just as the ideas Trump espouses aren’t new, nor was the Tea Party anything new, except in terms of organization. And Abe could be seen the same way, not as new ideas, but them coalescing. It’s easy to blame the current political climate on Abe and attribute Gate to him, but it misses that these things have been ongoing for some time now.

    I haven’t watched the 2nd cour yet (I prefer marathoning this show), but when I saw the “Partisan Reporter” tweets, I didn’t really get the deal (I did, I’ll get to it soon). Of course reporters aren’t giving us objective truth, and everything they say is mediated through their ideological stances, feelings, etc. I guess the issue here is that as with each time the show addresses these things, it presented them as a bad thing, as a caricature. I do think the Twitter anger over this missed the point, because it basically accepted that what the reporter said was “wrong”, rather than treating it as what it is, the simple truth, and that it’s unavoidable.

    I also have some other thoughts on tangential topics that I have no wish to get into, because I sigh each time I read the related discussions online, so I’ll smartly not get into one of them here ;-)

    • …for which you need polls.

      Except internet polls are infamously unreliable, so I’m screwed either way. Lucky this is isn’t an academic journal :’)

      I’ll respond to the rest of this later, but I’m tired now so good night!

      • Sleep well! And well, I was thinking more of professional polls which newspapers then report on, heh.

      • Polls in general are not reliable anyway – even “traditionnal media” polls, opinion is a too volatile thing. They’re often sloppily done and even when serious they unavoidably introduce many biases.

        You’d need a carefully crafted sociological survey with a rigorous statistical processing and a fair amount of critical interpretation, which is out of the scope of amateur blogging.

        It’s interesting (although probably unsurprising) though to see how a lot of the rhetoric used in that kind of debate is exactly the same that we find in all sorts of internet discussions on political/social topics.

    • The partisan reporter was indeed a silly a moment in context, even if it is true that journalists are biased and that there is no such thing as objective reporting.

      One thing you didn’t mention in your comment and which is conveniently ignored by the show itself is that the media is supposed to act as a watchdog on the actions of the government. They don’t call it the Fourth Estate for nothing. A journalist is simply doing his job if he’s skeptical of the government and assumes that the JSDF is covering things up unless proven otherwise. This doesn’t necessarily mean that journalists are in the right all the time, and the show could have argued compellingly that the journalist was letting his ideology blind his eyes to the facts in this case. That the show failed to do this is no surprise, though, given its track record.

      • Is media “supposed” to do that? That’s exactly one of the biases I was talking of. One of many. It’s not inherent to journalism or its job. A journalist who sides with the government and preaches what they say is not any less of a journalist than one who constantly tries to uncover the government’s wrong-doings.

        We act as if one is more of a journalist, but that’s our biases speaking.

      • The “biased reporter” thing though is a longstanding JP rightist complaint, tied in with the comfort women controversy, and going back before that to complaints that “leftist” reporters were stirring up stories that were then adopted by Korean and Chinese ultra-nationalists in their campaigns.

  2. The whole thing is really crazy. In the past, right-wing anime like Konpeki no Kantai were not translated because of its political stance. Now, we have people in the west defend those type of shows. Politically, I think anime has become a lot more direct and angrier. Just in the last few years, I’ve seen Concrete Revolutio, Terror in Resonance, Gate, Gatchaman Crowds, Mahouka, the Wind Rises, Active Raid… All of them are very open about its political message in a way unseen before. Hell, have you seen the new Fire Emblem game? They add Japan into game traditionally only had European setting.

    In real life, Japan seems to be a lot more active as well. In Vietnam, I see an increase of Japan’s cultural advertisements. The recruitment and education of Vietnamese students and workers to Japan has been stepped up too. Then there are talks of military assistance from Japan. I fear of another great power struggle in South East Asia.

    • I’d just like to provide contextual input that Japanese activity in Vietnam is encouraged by the Vietnamese government in response to China’s more actively expansionist policies in the South China Sea. Japan has its own issues with China in the East China Sea, and relies on the sea routes intersecting both of these seas for its economic livelihood.

      Japan isn’t doing this stuff in Vietnam, in other words, because it is being expansionist.

      • I know that Japan is doing it for its own survival, but this can easily escalated into a fight with Vietnam being the proxy and take the brunt of the attack. The clusterfuck in Ukraine is an example. There are no shortage of Vietnamese who believe we should ally with Japan and the West at any cost.

        • Come now. The Vietnamese government knows better than to do that. For one thing, Vietnam’s economy relies heavily on Chinese trade and investment with and into their country, respectively. The Japanese government is in a similar situation.

          • I hope so. But I’m not so sure I can expect both the government and the people to act rationally all the time. In the past, when Vietnam tried to walk between China and Soviet, it did not stop war. Now, a full scale war is extremely unlikely, but unrest and economic instability can be very harmful as well.

            • Hmm… I take it that you’re a Vietnamese too?

              For now, the Party is doing not so bad about that. One reason for Nguyễn Tấn Dũng not becoming the General Secretary is because the Politburo doesn’t want to disturb China more with Dũng’s pro-West view.

              But we can’t not say that Nguyễn Phú Trọng, who is generally lean toward China, is a bulli-able politician. He did make several friendly gestures with America, Japan, India,… in the past. And it was him who put Phạm Bình Minh to be the Foreign Minister, and then the Deputy Prime Minister. One of China’s requirements for peace was for the government at the time to fire Mr. Phạm Cơ Thạch, father of Mr. Minh.

              Anyway, just forget what I just have said. Things like these are out of our hands. Better go on with the normal life.

  3. Being a huge fan of urban fantasy, I personally LOVE Gate in terms of the core concept and its explorations. The modern world connected to a fantasy world, and societies from both worlds intermingling with each other? Yes, all of my money please.

    On the other hand, while most of the grievances I’ve noticed have been addressed in this one article, I’m still much more bothered by just how “disjointed” the Special Region’s world, lore and technology feels. It’s like a very slapdash combination of several historical eras, with a big helping of a rudimentary, if not very shallow understanding of the typical fantasy setting that Middle Earth, Westeros and Cimmeria gave us. Hell, for how much I HATE the Elder Scrolls series for its own bucket of problems, I still felt a sense of cohesion, seamlessness, or just general immersion to the world that series has provided.

    You could say that this disjointed feeling becomes even more exacerbated by Japan’s near-invincibility in the battles they’ve fought against the wildlife, criminal elements and the Empire’s armies. What little moments of realism I’ve seen in all the fights the series gave, there’s always that moment it all stops and instantly turns into Hollywood Anime medieval martial arts. Come on, guys, Rory’s halberd weighs half a ton. Just have her do a pirouette for a few minutes while all the spears around her get shredded before she turns everyone around her into ground meat. Don’t do that typical “No one could possibly jump over our full-circle spear formation!” trope that other Anime and Manga have a tendency of doing. And that was some seriously amateurish swordsmanship, Zorzal was right, where the hell WAS your sword skills you keep bragging about before you got skewered and shot by Kuri? I can bet that a member of the Theban Sacred Band would have FAR more skill and agility than any of you did.

    • The lack of detail in the fantasy part of the setting was something I noticed too. It was particularly glaring next to the level of loving detail that was put into the JSDF weaponry depicted in the series.

      I get that this is supposed to be an unequal conflict and that the point of the series is to show how superior a modern army would be over a medieval one – but I actually think that the point would have gotten across more powerfully if the Empire’s army was shown to put up a decent fight. If the Empire had displayed a modicum of intelligence and deployed mages and demigods, they would have posed trouble for even a modern army. But a modern army would probably still win because of their superior discipline and ability to coordinate. It would have been a great way to show that it’s not just hi-tech weaponry that wins the day, it’s about superior training and communication. Putting an emphasis on the latter would have elevated the status of the JSDF as an institution, instead of just implying that anyone with guns would crush the fantasy empire.

      …Damn, look at me. I’m telling this piece of propaganda how to do propaganda better!

  4. I’m actually impressed Outbreak Company didn’t generate these discussions, it was exactly about Japan expanding their cultural imperialism.

  5. Well I just cant help but be reminded of Stargate and the flood of US made military fiction I’ve lived through my whole life.

    • I would argue that Stargate is a bit different, considering how often the SG teams got their asses kicked. They were by no means invincible, and only survived as long as they did initially due to hiding, and the Iris.

      • In Stargate US in many cases was a underdog, but towards many less advanced worlds they were in the same position superior like Japan towards Empire.
        To be honest I would not be surprised if Gate author was inspired by Stargate.

  6. Interesting post. Thank you for taking the time research and write this up. Personally I think the anime itself is interesting and I’m just a bit skeptical that you are writing a post like this while saying it’s not. I might have to start calling you Tsundere Frogkun. >_> (I kid… Mostly)

    Even the best Internet communities run on outrage and drama. It’s like the internet version of old men talking about the weather. For years I’ve wanted to create and or find one that doesn’t need that as a baseline. To date I’m not really sure what that would look like. The best of the best seems to be addressing drama and outrage in a positive way. In my experience it’s hard to get away from it entirely even with rationally minded people. I think this is a real reason for concern. Online communities are only going to become more important in the future. A topic for another day maybe.

    I have a lot of thoughts after reading this, but I don’t really have the time to write them up right now. Maybe later tonight.

  7. Curious enough that Koreans would complain about Code Geass, unless they never watched the whole thing, when the show actually does almost the opposite of GATE in terms of representing the Japanese military. If I wanted to brainwash people into believing in the might of glorious Nippon, Code Geass would be the last thing I’d ever show them, given that Zero’s politics are relatively left-wing and non-racially oriented, plus he criticizes the old Japanese older beyond his opposition to Britannia.

    • If I had to make my best guess and not be dismissive about this, it’s that some Koreans may be incensed by the fact it’s yet another anime where it preeminently shows Japan being victimized instead of being the victimizer.

  8. Frog-kun can you please respond to my messages? I simply want to ask you a few things and that’ ll be it. I just want to work on my dream to finish my light novel and maybe publish it some day.

    I’ m starting to lose hope of ever coming in contact with you so please respond in some way…
    Thank you in advance.

  9. I’m less worried about viewers who know that Gate is propaganda (albeit arguably lazy propaganda) and viewers who don’t while they watch it, and have no or weak opinions about Japanese nationalism. There’s more to the show that’s potentially appealing than its controversial elements, and I fear the controversial stuff will leak into people’s subconscious thinking while watching Gate extensively.

    You know, subliminal messaging, psychology, and whatnot. Statistics are hard to generate, as you note, when it comes to determining whether or not Gate is specifically having this effect on people that aren’t already stridently racist nationalists. I’m worried nonetheless.

    • I’m inclined to see Gate as a symptom rather than a cause of Japanese neo-nationalism. It’s not terribly different from other pro-nationalist “military moe” series. It’s only notable because it’s more transparent about its politics.

      • This is coming from a guy who’s sworn to himself not to watch SAO, so I might be a bit too hard on this issue. This is a somewhat new thing with anime, however, for it to be so explicit, and the series has proven popular enough to have produced a sequel.

        By the way, what military moe shows did you have in mind?

        • The first shows that come to mind: Kancolle, Strike Witches, Girls und Panzer.

          These are all harmless shows on their own. There’s not even much in any of them that can even be interpreted as nationalistic. But taken as a trend, they do indicate an increased willingness to separate the weapons used by the IJA and IJN from the actions of those institutions.

          It’s sort of like how “cute girls doing cute things” shows like K-ON!, Kiniro Mosaic and Gochiusa are utterly inoffensive, but when taken together are symptomatic of a troubling “otaku purity complex”.

          • If the intention of these creators were to make their incorporation of military hardware into their shows non-offensive, I feel like Gate’s done the worst job out of the shows you mentioned though in terms of reducing them into independent database elements. I read imperialistic overtones in Gate that I frankly have not picked up in GuP. Gate’s characters go constantly into war with its arms to advance their idealistic aims while GuP’s characters explicitly disavow war with its and treats its arms as a sport. GuP’s characters make friends with the stereotypically nationalized teams they compete with. Gate’s subdue subdue other peoples that get in their way.

            There’s more to conditioning people to accept ultranationalistic mindsets than just adding the same kinds of guns and tanks to different moe anime. There’s also what those shows do with or juxtapose with these weapons that matter.

            • Hey, I agree with you. Gate is by far the most blatant, and I think that comes from its self-indulgent origins as a web novel. It wasn’t even trying to appeal to a mainstream audience.

              I also wouldn’t describe any of the shows mentioned in this thread as “conditioning people to accept ultranationalistic mindsets”. What I do think is that there is a non-trivial crossover between military otaku and moe otaku, and that these shows are a result of this growing coalition. And I also think that a significant minority of anime otaku are net-uyo. It is perhaps not altogether surprising that an anime would eventually come along that is pretty much a mouthpiece for net-uyo views.

            • It certainly would be interesting to see numbers regarding net-uyo viewership when it comes to fan crossover between GuP and Gate. I would hazard, though, not to conflate “military otaku” with “net-uyo.”

              Narratively speaking, at least, I still think the similarities between the two in terms of military hardware aesthetics are superficial. In terms of rhetoric at least, Gate tends to bring worse things out of its viewers than GuP. Is that because GuP fans are less likely to be confronted, or because net-uyo make up a lesser share of the viewership than other fans?

              I wonder how deep the military otaku and moe otaku nexus happens to be. I might be conflating, but there seems to be a lot of crossover between mecha otaku and military otaku. Not an insignificant amount of mecha otaku refuse to watch moe on its own. GuP, in that sense, might have been that show where it drew more military otaku viewership than otherwise if it wasn’t a sports show about tanks.

            • Don’t know if you’ve seen this: http://neojaponisme.com/2012/05/30/are-japanese-moe-otaku-right-wing/

              But yeah, this isn’t to say that “military otaku” = “net-uyo”, just that there’s a vocal minority that happens to be both. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that an anime would come along that appeals to this cross-section of the anime-viewing audience. I definitely wouldn’t describe it as mainstream, though. If it was mainstream, there would be more anime like Gate.

              And for the record, I think that GuP is quite a harmless show. That’s why it can appeal to multiple demographics without offending anyone.

            • I’m a little confused about the Imperialism tones. I definitely see some political imperialism; Japan is essentially forcing the foreign nation to play by political rules that they are largely unfamiliar with, and Japan is very clearly interested in the resources of the land. On the other hand there has been practically no overt military aggression.

              Japan was attacked first when the soldiers came through the gate. When the JSDF arrived in the other world they simply defended their position. They did not provoke the attack other than by just being there at all. Subsequent exploratory missions also didn’t engage beyond the need to defend themselves or those they were escorting. At the one outpost that Itami and his team helped defend they were fighting to what amounted to a politically independent group (bandits). The JSDF only reinforced their existing forces and assisted in defending a civilian outpost from outlaws.

              I mean, overall the show mostly just seems like military porn but other than bullying the Empire politically, which in the medieval setting mostly just means nobles and government officials, the JSDF largely seems to be fighting for the civilians and commoners in the show. Even though they usually only act after a direct appeal for help.

            • If you’re not familiar with this aspect of WWII history, know that the wartime leaders at the Tokyo Trials were adamant and sincere in their beliefs that their conduct during WWII was all one big defensive maneuver against Western encroachment. They plotted the creation of this Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. In their rhetoric about this Sphere, all Asian peoples in the designated territories would be aided and guided toward civilization and enlightenment.

            • The rhetoric, both in the show and during the war, was based around this Japanese reconceptualization of the “White Man’s Burden.” In fiction like Gate, you can put these ideas into practice and write that you’re doing the right thing and the baddies are bad and the people are happy. But these ideas, put into practice in real life, led to the deaths of tens of millions of Asians throughout the region. I lost freaking family because of the Japanese.

              Gate may not have envisioned itself to be this insensitive to people’s sensibilities, but that is not an excuse for it to make lazy propaganda.

            • I’m Filipino-American, by the way.

            • I can’t describe myself as being intimately familiar with Japan’s politics during WWII but I was aware of their justification for their attacks. However I see GATE as differing in several ways, the most prominent being that there are specific factions asking for aid. Not to mention that Japan was attacked first in the anime (I haven’t read the manga so I can’t comment on that).

              I can see the propaganda viewpoint, considering how much emphasis is put on the depictions of military hardware and firepower, but at the same time I think that the events are also just an earnest imagining how how such a scenario might play out. Obviously that is going to be influenced by the creator’s views, but I don’t think that necessarily translates into an agenda for spreading that specific viewpoint. Also I have to wonder if the JSDF was replaced by a fantasy nation’s defense force if it would still be labeled imperialistic and propagandist just as much.

              Maybe it’s because I’m from the US but I don’t sense any blatant advocation in favor of imperialism. Is it awfully idealistic? Yeah, but in fiction, why not? Does it fixate an awful lot on military firepower? You can’t really deny that, but I interpreted that more as pandering to military enthusiasts. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t see GATE being particularly influential in persuading people towards imperialism.

            • I don’t think it’s overtly pro-imperialist, which is why I call it an example of lazy propaganda. I think lazy propaganda is nonetheless dangerous for influencing people who aren’t normally critical about the media they consume and normally possess weak opinions when it comes to controversial matters. The “persuasion” that occurs is a subliminal and gradual one that makes inadvertent use of the psychological technique of operant conditioning.

              People like watching action scenes and cute girls. Gate has action scenes and cute girls, but it also has sequences of the JDSF occupying backwards peoples’ lands and civilizing backwards peoples’ minds. Watch enough of this, and people also begin to see the occupation and civilization of backwards’ peoples as a positive thing too.

              Here are a couple of videos about lazy propaganda, called lazy design by the creators, in video games.

            • I watched those videos that you linked. They were an interesting watch that brought up some really good points. However, I don’t really believe that even lazy propaganda is very effective. Lazy propaganda is only going to be effective on people who already agree, at least in part, to the message being conveyed. Using an example from the video: The episode’s host showed America’s Army to his friend whom was described as being as being very gung-ho for American patriotism, and his friend gave the game an emphatic endorsement. Big surprise right? Yet playing America’s Army didn’t seem to sway the video’s host in the slightest. The media is only going to be effective at reinforcing an already existing viewpoint.

              Anyways, in GATE’s case the situations presented in the anime seem much more similar to political situations during the Cold War. The idea being that instead of an aggressor nation’s self-imposed intervention, the defending nation’s government would be destabilized and support would be provided to opposing factions. When the time came for the opposing group to take control the aggressor nation would support and endorse a rebel faction willing to work with them (usually providing resources or serving as a military proxy). As such I see GATE mirroring alternate real world situations. And again I don’t think, even via lazy propaganda, that GATE is going to convince anyone that destabilizing governments is a good idea, even under the pretense of liberating its people.

              In either case I will be keeping an eye out for ‘lazy propaganda’ now that I know about it to see if my opinion changes at all.

              I am quite enjoying this discussion.

            • The point wasn’t that it sways the beliefs of people with preexisting strong opinions. The videos make clear that people who realize it’s propaganda can raise their mental skepticism barriers to the propaganda’s. It’s with people with no or weak opinions on issues that it has the most effect brainwashing. High school kids playing America’s Army might not have strong political opinions concerning our armed forces coming into the game. They just want a shooter to play. But they might come out wanting to join our armed forces because it gameplay is structured on rewarding plays for accomplishing cathartic feats associated with military romanticism and patriotic obligation. The game, however, dodges the big ethical questions connected to serving in the army, or the negative roles the army has played throughout history.

              I’d like to point you to the historically relevant comparison of Zhang Zuolin, Chinese Manchurian warlord and Japanese-supported proxy during the 1920s. I’d like to say that this historical scenario of expansionism is different from that modern hypothetical of judicious, stabilizing, and humanitarian interventionism, but Japan has a history of using this kind of rhetoric to justify imperialistic activities. I don’t mind it, ultimately, if anime like Gate come to the conclusion that interventionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing (I’m personally not anti-interventionist at all all costs), but they have to address their historical baggage in addition to the interventionism’s potential cons.

              I’ve enjoying this conversation too.

            • I think that for people with weak or nonexistent opinions that media still really only serves as reinforcement, most of the time. Ultimately I think that the people surrounding an individual with weak opinions are the deciding factor in what they believe. Those most at risk are young kids, but if a parent has differing viewpoints they are going to make it known. If the parent is a figure that the kid respects then they’re going to have a lot of impact. Of course this is mitigated by other people that an individual, kid or otherwise, respects, such as friends, teachers, or mentors. So people without role models or close friends are likely to take opinions from other places like games or shows (anime). I think that’s a relatively small section of the population though for a country like Japan. As long as there are plenty of people with differing mindsets ‘lazy propaganda’ is going to have only a minor effect since the majority of people develop moral beliefs from other people. I think the bigger danger in lazy media lies in things that people have little to no exposure to, like other cultures. (Though that is lessening somewhat now thanks to greater global communication/travel.)

              As to your other point, I agree with you for the most part. If GATE were a more serious anime I’d definitely expect it to include a balanced viewpoint and take into account historical events. GATE, however, comes across more as action and, oddly enough for an anime, a political thriller. As such I can see why a director might choose to forgo getting the audience entangled in moral quandaries.

  10. I’m commenting to say thank you for the youtube link in the footnote. That video is hilarious.

  11. I’ve largely cut down my intake of others’ reactions, twitter, blog-reading, etc. so thanks for the digest! I do follow Gate itself with great interest, starting with the manga about two years ago. (The anime caught up to and passed the manga adaptation as of Episode 19.) I find the political emphasis in the series to be present enough to be thought-provoking, but light enough to not be off-putting. Well, at least the stuff that happens in the fantasy-world end. The stuff going on in the real-world end is indeed either vapid or caricature-like. We get little to no idea of how the general populace reacts to the existence of a parallel fantasy world besides netizens ogling over elves and goth-lolis.

    The premise of Gate essentially takes the well-worn isekai genre and blows a hole in it. Instead of a single or select few characters from our world being transported into the fantasy world or vice versa, both worlds are opened up to wholesale (albeit limited) interaction with each other. In my opinion, Gate does pretty well in exploring these new possibilities, with a more realistic bent than Outbreak Company. Looking past the broad plot developments, there’s some down-to-earth vignettes that make Gate a fascinating read: Sergeant Kurokawa interacting with and supplying contraceptives to sex workers in the imperial capital’s slums; the JSDF’s backup force to Itami’s dragon-hunting party facing the arduous trek across rivers and countryside with plenty of gawkers along the way; Lelei applying her newfound knowledge of physics to enhance her magic and describing the thrill of driving a car. Most of these are skimmed over in the anime, which is a damn shame.

    • The premise of Gate is gold. It doesn’t live up to its promise, but those little moments of cultural exchange have indeed been the best parts of the show so far. It’s interesting to see that the manga goes more in-depth with those aspects. But alas, the art style puts me off…

      As for the politics, yes it is incredibly stupid and ridiculous whenever the story ventures into the real world. The funny thing is that I genuinely don’t object to the right-wing bent of the anime. Had it not relied so much on strawmen to make its points, I would have found it thought-provoking, even if I don’t happen to share the author’s worldview. There is a genuine argument that can be made about Japanese citizens today not understanding what a defence force is supposed to do and clinging to naive conceptions of pacifism.

  12. Hmm…I’m really starting to think that we have a connection between each others. Not in a freaky way.

    That is because I just have read two things today: One is Wuloom Family, a Taiwanese 4-koma series which they made fun of the Wukou pirates – but they also make fun of even Bao Zheng, who is considered a guardian deity in China, Taiwan and where there are Chinese.

    The second is a book about the legacy of G. Bush. It explained that even till today, our conception of a Divided States of America is wrong – common people ALWAYS (even if they may say aloud their far-right or far-left stand) seeking the moderate and compromise. Like you wrote, it’s because of the a vocal minority, then fanned by a lousy Four Estate.

    (Of course, there is the fact that normal, “moderate” people choose their delegates from a bunch of curmudgeons, not the other way around.)

    What I want to say is: writers, critics and readers alike should ask a question to themselves: What am I bias about? Not just the common “liberal”, “conservative”, “communist”,… – they spill all over the spectrum. But put themselves in a specific situation, maybe of one character from what you’re going to write/enjoy, and think. There might be no right answer, but I believe that most of us can come to the some identical consensus.

    (For example, people usually depict a Red Army soldier as an tough, practical but also carries within himself somekind of knightly romantism/fanatic for Communism, both in the First and Second World. However, if you are keen on the art of propagonda, you’ll notice a shift in tone in Soviet’s posters and public speeches – a grudging acknowlegement by everyone that the soldier would more likely to fight harder for Motherland than for Socialism.)

    • The second is a book about the legacy of G. Bush. It explained that even till today, our conception of a Divided States of America is wrong – common people ALWAYS (even if they may say aloud their far-right or far-left stand) seeking the moderate and compromise.

      This sounds like a really fascinating book! What’s it called?

      • The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment

        But do you have any experience with political analysis? The articles included inside are very heavy on numbers, polls, and concepts like “Rally ’round the flag effect”.

  13. Interesting post, thanks. It would help a lot if the 2nd cour of Gate wasn’t such a muddled mess. Losing what subtlety/nuance (not much but it had some) it had in the first cour hasn’t helped either.

  14. When I saw you post on twitter that you were writing this up, I though “D’oh! Great idea – why didn’t I think of that!” Then again, although I try to get into the interaction between Japanese society and media myself, GATE probably hits a little too close to home for me to cover it at this point, even if I try my best to keep my online ACG profile completely separate from my real life one.

    Thank you in particular for two things, though. The first is that link to the Iida and Fujita article. One exchange in particular stood out to me. When Fujita asks Iida what he thinks the anime should have done, Iida argues that it should have tried to present to the audience questions about what the SDF should do in the various situations when it meets the other world’s forces. Basically, that it should present those encounters as a dilemma that the SDF personnel in the story—and the audience, as an extension—really need to think about in order to come up with an appropriate response. Basically, GATE could have become a platform that encourages more balanced debates amongst the wider Japanese public, a way of countering some of the extremism that can been found on both the right and the left in Japan today. And the most striking thing about that part of the conversation was Fujita’s response: “That’s a surprise. I didn’t expect to be the one defending what they (the creators) did.”

    Well, if I’m interpreting what they’d talking about there correctly, anyway. (^^;;)

    I think the point Iida was making is that in deciding that GATE was “just entertainment” and trying to remove traces of the ‘excuses’ and upping the presentation of the otaku-elements, the effect achieved was opposite to what was intended. Many viewers simply weren’t going to treat it as “just entertainment,” especially not overseas viewers from Korea and China. Hence, in emphasising those otaku-elements, the characters come across as being unconcerned about the people they have killed and the destruction they have caused. (At least, that’s the implication I picked up—I dropped GATE after three episodes, so I’m not sure how accurate that statement is.) The presentation also makes it easy to argue that Japan went into the GATE ‘because they wanted to conquer this unknown land’. As Iida pointed out, people who really know the debates around Japanese security policy well would never have treated the subject so lightly. That the anime creative team chose not to go there is, in fact, indicative of how they really didn’t want it to be political.

    And the other thing to thank you for is the link to the John Oliver video. Hilarious, indeed. ^^

    • GATE probably hits a little too close to home for me to cover it at this point, even if I try my best to keep my online ACG profile completely separate from my real life one.

      That’s perfectly understandable. It occurs to me that “ACG” is a term used mainly in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, so you would have a personal connection to the issue…

      Basically, GATE could have become a platform that encourages more balanced debates amongst the wider Japanese public

      That’s what I think as well, although I doubt that the anime would have evoked a balanced debate even if it did happen to be well-written and nuanced. On a related note, it’s unfortunate that the web novel not available nowadays; it would have been interesting to see just how much its political elements were toned down in its various adaptations. It certainly seems like the anime creators went out of their way not to be controversial – although as you’ve noted, their decision to play it safe backfired on them.

      In any case, it was certainly nice to read an interesting and nuanced debate between two well-informed critics! It’s a pity that most of the commentators chose only to respond to the polarising part that I quoted… but it’s not a surprise.

      • Haha…no no, I was referring more to my career — at least, as it’s panning out at the moment. I actually can’t remember where I picked up ACG from — I probably just came across it somewhere around the time I was hunting around for a shorter way to write “anime, manga and games etc,” so I didn’t even know it was something used mostly in that region. If I’d thought to search for what Japanese fans used, I’d have started using MAG instead (and now I know why that program is called MAG・ネット!) Oh well, learn something new every day!

        although I doubt that the anime would have evoked a balanced debate even if it did happen to be well-written and nuanced.

        True…the controversy that The Wind Rises met with when it was released suggests that it’s incredibly difficult to get the two sides talking to each other with any. Though that could be just one example out of hundreds. The presidential campaign in the US is a minefield of issues where candidates and voters alike just don’t seem to be able to have balanced debates anymore.

        It would indeed have been interesting to see the differences between the web novel and the published one. I wonder if any of the original fans actually kept copies of it…

  15. Crap! I want to reblog this!

    I noticed Gate a while back before the anime and noted it and another foreign-aid-to-fantasy-world manga as potential fun-filled manga minefields. My on-the-other-hand has always been some of the odder “paranoid style” excesses in the Stargate franchise, but I am willing to consider that the relative strengths of the baddies has more to do with cultural expectations than any dire propaganda impulses.

    You missed mentioning the kicker in the Evil Reporter scene: The civilian JSDF guide is the rescued Japanese woman whose family were killed in the Ginza raid, who was enslaved and raped by the crazed imperial despot and who is now at work, acting professional and restrained even to jerk-ass reporter-san.

    The power to protect one’s nationals from barbaric outlander murderous behaviour (cf: Japanese nationals in the middle east, China, North Korea) is undoubtedly a stronger chord for the Japanese reader/viewer than any larger neo-colonialist subtext; even if they are strongly related.

    Finding political allegories in manga and anime is always fun. Personally I like the Ghost in the Shell Arise tendency to place the blame for all mayhem at the feet of squabbling politico-industrial factions within japan, with the military and para-military actors always being used as disposable catspaws. Excessive and petty factionalism pretty well defines contemporary Japanese domestic politics.

    Thanks for this. A valuable excursion into the Japanese fandom’s reaction.
    How did you ever resist titling it:

    “2Chan: Thus the right wing Japanese basement dwellers fought here.”

    ?

    • How did you ever resist titling it:

      “2Chan: Thus the right wing Japanese basement dwellers fought here.”

      ?

      I legit did not think of that! What a missed opportunity.

      Also, thanks for the insightful comment! I’ve only watched one episode of Ghost in the Shell Arise and now I feel the need to watch the rest of it. I wonder how much its outlook resembles that of Stand Alone Complex…

  16. I’m surprised there wasn’t a reaction to the portrayal of the prime minister in episode 21. His blase refusal to approve the rescue mission on shallow political grounds, and the military’s seething impatience, suggests a wish to return to the independent military of the early 20th century. Rory’s dressing down of the antagonistic Diet member in episode 8 was similarly suggestive. Now that I think about it, the reporter is a variation of that Diet member. The show is repeating itself.

    I enjoyed the first cour of this show. The ideas of rehabilitating the Japanese military’s reputation and rising Japanese nationalism caught my interest. However, I think that’s all played out now, and the second cour has been tiresome.

    • Heh, just because I didn’t write down all the reactions to that portrayal of the prime minister doesn’t mean that there were no reactions. People on Yaraon were calling the Prime Minister an idiot and also saying that a Prime Minister wasn’t supposed to act that way. One person said: “It’d be interesting if the PM wasn’t afraid of the media, just like Trump.”

      …….

  17. Thank you Frogkun; this has been a very informative article on — what is to me — the “other side’s viewpoint”.

    Personally, I would say that the Gate anime (and its LN author) isn’t so much as “political” and he is simply “ignorant”.

    I was raised by Chinese WW2 veterans, so it’s very easy to take a kneejerk reaction towards something like this. It is true that similarities between Gate and Japan’s portrayal of WW2 is haunting: this was a time when the technology gap between Japan and the rest of East Asia was extreme, when China was engulfed in an endless civil war that killed millions of its own people, when the surrounding countries were colonies subject to the brutal Imperialistic suppression of the Americans (who killed hundreds of thousands of Phillipino nationalists), French (no less brutal in Indochina), Dutch (who have been committing genocidal atrocities in Indonesia for centuries), and the British (who would rather see Indians starve to death than to lower taxes during drought and famine). So Japan starts off with at quite the moral high ground, portraying themselves as liberators by empowering the locals, freeing them from oppression and war. They would sweep in with their gong-ho military machine, expel the foreigners in favor of ‘native/local’ governments, and introduce superior Japanese products, culture, and values…

    Well, we all know what that led to — “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” indeed.

    Even the Gate anime’s early military campaign, where the Empire threw their vassals’ armies into the grinder like fodder, strongly mirrored the initial years in China where the KMT ordered the armies of the local warlords (who were barely trained and terribly equipped — noted by the famous Chinese WW2 “dadao/broadsword” companies) into the fray, in order to buy time after the crushing early defeats…

    Nothing to eat, nothing to wear,
    There’s the enemy who will supply us.
    No guns, no cannons,
    The enemy will be forge them for us.

    – The Guerillas’ Song, written during the “War of Resistance against Japan” (Chinese name for WW2)

    But this is where the starkness begins. Personally, I like to compare Gate with another — the naval anime Zipang from years back, which also focused on the JSDF. In Zipang, you see the JSDF cruiser Mirai, due to its tremendous technological superiority, issue repeated threats and displays of power. They would warn their opponents again and again to back down, all while demonstrating weapons that basically screamed “you can’t possibly hope to defeat us”. Sure, military being military, most of their threats failed. But the point was — they tried their darn hardest. Not just because of their limited supplies, but because they — as cadet trained in the ideals of SELF DEFENSE — were uncomfortable with wholesale slaughter.

    When they were forced to destroy the American carrier Wasp and knew they just condemned thousands to a watery grave, one could see how hard they struggled to come to grip with reality.

    This is the kind of thing we don’t see in Gate at all. We don’t see the horror of soldiers as they butcher hundreds of thousands with sweeping artillery fire. We don’t see thirst of bloodied combat troops as they feel EMPOWERED by adrenaline and the weapons of death in their hands. We don’t see the us-vs-them mentality that war inevitably breed amongst troops — that the only way for the human psych to adjust to murdering countless others is to see the other side as something beneath themselves. We don’t see the military occupation that always led to a grandiose sense of power over the locals — which the Japanese should have plenty of experience with, given the much publicized rape cases near American bases.

    We see the goodness that the JSDF brings. The goods, the food, the humanitarian aid… but what about the flip side? Where are all the crying mothers and wives and sons and daughters? They killed hundreds of thousands in a pre-industrial society, which should have stripped an entire generation of men from empires (much like WWI). Where is the prostitution as local women coddle up to foreign soldiers for extra food and better comforts? Where are the tribunals as less disciplined soldiers inevitably break rules and conduct robbery and rape?

    Instead, we get a washed down, almost black-and-white version of the good vs the bad, the humanitarian vs the callous, the ambitious warmongerers vs the reasonable negotiators.

    I can only conclude one thing — Gate is written by an otaku military nerd who knows nothing of war.

    • This was a great comment, thank you. I don’t have much to add to it. Although I do have to wonder about what kind of experience Gate’s author had as a former JSDF member. I don’t want to make direct assumptions about his life based on his writing, but since about 22,000 JSDF personnel were dispatched to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2010 (out of over 200,000 active personnel), it is very likely that Yanai has never physically been to a war zone.

      Even assuming Yanai has first-hand experience of conflict, the SDF specialises primarily in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations these days. This would likely have coloured Gate’s portrayal of the JSDF as an inherently righteous organisation. Even if the JSDF takes on combat roles in the anime, it never really sees itself as an “army”, with all the moral ambiguity that entails.

      Also,

      Where is the prostitution as local women coddle up to foreign soldiers for extra food and better comforts?

      Amusingly, this is a plot point in the anime. The local women try to seduce the JSDF, but the men are too moral and well-disciplined to get into sexual relations with the natives. They do, however, provide contraception for the prostitutes so they can get it on with the other natives at the base.

      • Just think back to what Europe thought of war before World War I…
        It is easy for people who have never truly experienced war to romanticize it.

        “The local women try to seduce the JSDF, but the men are too moral and well-disciplined to get into sexual relations with the natives.” — because clearly, ‘comfort women’ never happened as the Japanese were too moral for them…

  18. Frogkun, something pertinent to this article (and the trends of LN in general) that I thought you should see:

    Now every time they mention the positive/negative impact of Video Games, replace those words with Light Novels… or Web Novels, which is even for guilty of propagating our own opinions/worldviews (and therefore reinforcing our biases) rather than exploring new ones.

    • Oh hey, someone linked videos from this very same Youtuber elsewhere in the comments in this post! And yeah, it’s quite interesting. One of the Japanese critics mentioned in this post said something along the same lines:

      “Imperial Japan’s invasion of other countries during Second World War, too, was premised on ‘lofty ideals’ such as ‘freeing them from the yoke of the West’. I think that boasting of one’s faults through a work about this kind of sadistic pleasure is, paradoxically, rather ethical. It’s a show that makes you aware that this kind of cruelty and pleasure can be found within yourself, and it makes you reflect upon it.”

      It’s certainly something worth thinking about.

  19. Armchair politics (bullshit is what I like to call politics) discussion, how boring. The anime was great, it was a fun story. I don’t see why people are making a big deal out of it.. The only conclusion I can come up with is that they hate the military and this is what has been targeted for the next campaign, that’s fine. Not that I care about you or what you are saying, but… please hurry up and find a new target, this anime is GOOD, verry well made infact. I would hate to see it tarnished with opinionated conspiracy theories.

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